Pennies in a Jar

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Lewin's (Peppe the Lamplighter) stunning, realistic watercolors are the highlight of this otherwise muddled WWII home front story. The young narrator's father has been sent overseas, and the world feels scary-even the placid horses that pull the trade wagons through the streets look intimidating. But when an itinerant salesman offers to take the boy's picture on a pony for 50 cents, the boy realizes that he's been given the opportunity both to confront his fears and to create special birthday present for his father. Unfortunately Chaconas (Dancing with Katya) never achieves a convincing voice for her hero. The prose feels ponderous and self-conscious; it's hard to believe that a kid would use a word like "nicker" when talking about a horse that frightens him. The story's epiphany is delivered with an equally heavy hand: even the rent-a-pony is saddled with the name Freedom ("Dad went away to the war to fight for freedom," notes the boy). But Lewin's illustrations compensate for many of the story's shortcomings. The intensity of the lighting, the cinematic compositions and the emotional nuances of the characters' expressions steer clear of sentimentality as they summon up a vanished past. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Parallels to current events, including parents with military duty and gasoline availability, make this story of a boy growing up during World War II extra-accessible. In a time when horse-drawn conveyances share suburban streets with automobiles, a young boy painstakingly puts aside pennies in a green glass jar, saving to buy his serviceman dad a special birthday gift. Dad isn't the boy's only worry: He is painfully afraid of the enormous, stinky street horses that pull the milk cart, the garbage wagon and the rag-and-newspaper-collector's cart. If he can't face this fear, how can he possibly take care of things until dad gets home? A photographer's pony is a problem of more manageable size, and the boy gathers all his courage and most of his hard-won 56 cents to make an important present of proof of his bravery for dad. Text and art are well-matched here. Chaconas's narrative hits the right notes, and Lewin's shimmering watercolors are sun-splashed and copper-kissed, with studies in scale allowing the reader to get a real sense of the child's perspective. A fine, illustrated author's note explains how those who stayed at home during World War II worked together to support their loved ones overseas. (Picture book. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561454228
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Pages: 36
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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